How do you drill ceramic tiles?

It can be a difficult job to drill a hole in a tile wall. Follow these four steps to complete the task without breaking the tiles.

Whether you have a newly tiled bathroom or an existing older bathroom, drilling holes in tile walls can be a daunting task. You might want to attach shelves and racks to your bathroom wall to place washing utensils, or toilet roll holders and for this, you need to drill at least a couple of holes in the ceramic tiles. Follow the steps below to make sure you don’t break the tiles when doing the works.

The right ceramic tile drill bit

types of drill bit

Needless to say, a drill is required to perform this task. Here it is crucial to use the correct type of drill bit when drilling ceramic tile. A specific drill bit is required for drilling in tiles, as a regular drill bit for drilling in stone or wood will not be enough to penetrate the hard surface of the tile without cracking it. Therefore, use a tile drill to drill into tiles. Professionals recommend drilling with a diamond point, but it will cost you a little extra.

Tip: Never use an old or worn-out drill bit as it is less efficient and more likely to break the tile.

What type of ceramic tiles

types of ceramic tiles

First, make sure to distinguish between glazed and unglazed bathroom tiles. You can easily notice the difference by viewing the tile from the side at a distance, and you will also be able to spot the layer. By applying an extra glaze to the top of the tile and then baking it in the oven, the tile becomes sturdier, harder and water-resistant. A bathroom tile with a glazed surface will, therefore, be more difficult to perforate.

Tip: Porcelain tiles or natural tiles are very similar to regular ceramic tiles, but are even harder to drill.

Preparing the wall

drill and meter

Apply masking tape to the tiles where you want to drill. It is easier to accurately mark the location you want to drill on the tape rather than on the bathroom tiles themselves. Use the holes in, for example, the toilet roll holder where the screws go to measure the correct distance between the holes you want to drill. Use a spirit level to make sure the line is perfectly horizontal. The tape will also make the tiles less likely to break.

Tip: Whenever possible, always try to drill in the centre of a tile, as the edges can easily crack.

Drilling through tile

drilling through tile

Marking holes with tape beforehand ensures accuracy on where you want to drill and the tiles do not break easily. It also prevents the drill from slipping. Set up your drilling machine and, drill as slowly as possible at the beginning of the process until you have made a small opening. After this, you can increase the drilling speed, but make sure to take your time. Haste and speed can prove to be disastrous in this case. Once you are through the tile, you will notice that you will get less counterforce, so make sure you are prepared for this and keep holding the drill firmly.

Tip: Avoid allowing the drill to get too hot as this can also crack the bathroom tiles.

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